Thursday, September 20, 2012
ESPN's Pats-Ravens prediction roundup
A roundup of how ESPN's analysts see Sunday’s Patriots-Ravens game (8:20 p.m., on NBC) playing out.
* ESPNBoston.com’s Tedy Bruschi: Ravens 27, Patriots 20. The Patriots will be better after Thanksgiving than they are right now. They are still getting used to the way Josh McDaniels calls a game. Their offensive line needs more time to improve and Aaron Hernandez's injury is big. Couple that with the concerns on special teams and you have a recipe for a loss.
* ESPNBoston.com’s Mike Reiss: Ravens 24, Patriots 20. I expect a much better effort from the Patriots. This should be an electric environment. Given the home-field advantage, and some of the shaky play we've seen from the Patriots' offense in recent weeks, the Ravens look like the pick. Both teams have been excellent after a loss -- the Patriots are 27-3 the week after (since 2003), and the Ravens are 13-0 since 2009. The Ravens have also won 11 in a row at home. That's a lot to overcome.
* ESPNBoston.com’s Jackie MacMullan: Ravens 23, Patriots 20. Had this down as a loss even before Welkergate. Tough place to play on the road against a well coached team. No need to panic if the Patriots go down -- it's a long season and New England is a work in progress.
* ESPNBoston.com’s Mike Rodak: Ravens 28, Patriots 24. Last season, when the Patriots were on a two-game losing skid and heading to the Meadowlands, this reporter said the Patriots were heading into a hornet's nest, and predicted a Patriots loss. Battered and bruised, they pulled out that game in perhaps their best performance of the season, but this one will be different. The last time the Patriots were in Baltimore in 2007, they were 11-0 and still barely escaped with a victory over the 4-7 Ravens. Without Aaron Hernandez and coming off a surprising loss at home, the Patriots will return to New England with their first losing record since 2003.
* ESPNBoston.com’s Field Yates: Ravens 24, Patriots 23. Despite Week 2 losses, these teams remain among the most talented in the AFC, and could see each other again down the road. For the Patriots, the offense will find itself in a week of transition as it adjusts to playing without tight end Aaron Hernandez, but don't rule out Wes Welker becoming a primary target, much like he has been during his previous five seasons in New England. Ultimately, the Ravens, led by a perpetually tough defense, eke out the win, with the difference being the home field advantage.
* NFL Live: Former New England tackle Matt Light backs the Patriots: "There's a lot of hatred between these two teams. New England is gonna get back on track, get back to the basics, they're gonna be hungry for this one. They don't lose twice in a row very often." But Jerry Rice takes the Ravens, saying, "Give the ball to Ray Rice." (video below)
* ESPN experts: Eleven of the 12 pick the Ravens. Only Mike Ditka takes the Patriots.
* Madden 13 simulation: Patriots 35, Ravens 31. Talk about a game that lives up to the hype. The Ravens and Patriots battle for four quarters, trading scores and Hit Sticks, with the Patriots winning late thanks to Tom Brady's fourth touchdown pass of the night. Brady hits running back Stevan Ridley for the game winner, while also hitting Wes Welker for a 34-yard touchdown pass earlier in the quarter, as the Pats bounce back from an embarrassing loss last week to take down the hard-hitting Ravens in Week 3.